Update: Japan’s Rovers Successfully Land on Asteroid Ryugu

The two hopping robots that were deployed from Hayabusa2 finally reconnected with the mothership and sent images back to Earth with Ryugu’s surface as one of them was hopping.

The two rovers are part of the Hayabusa2 asteroid sample-return mission, headed by Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency. According to Advocator, after releasing the robots from the mothership on Friday, the engineers were waiting for the confirmation that the rovers made a safe landing. However, the connection was interrupted shortly. Panic did not settle in, as the team believed that as the asteroid revolves once 7.5 hours, the rovers will be able to reconnect to Hayabusa2.

#asteroidlanding – Safe Landing

In an excited post on Twitter, the Hayabusa2 wrote:

“We are sorry we have kept you waiting! MINERVA-II1 consists of two rovers, 1a & 1b. Both rovers are confirmed to have landed on the surface of Ryugu. They are in good condition and have transmitted photos & data. We also confirmed they are moving on the surface. #asteroidlanding”

Before sending the small rovers to the asteroid, the main spacecraft had to hover 55 meters away from the space rock and send the robots. After that, Hayabusa2 got back up, at 20 km distance.

The agency will also deploy two other robots: one is called MASCOT in October, and next year it will send another small hopper rover. The main spacecraft will also collect samples from the asteroid and safely send them home to Earth.

Scientists believe that the asteroid contains organic substances or minerals that would shed light on the origin and evolution of our solar system and probably life on Earth. The mission will end in 2020, when the rock and soil samples get back to Earth, stated the Agency.

In Japanese, Hayabusa means falcon, and Ryugu is the name of an undersea place where a dragon king lived.